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iPhone 14 crash detection alerts rescuers to fatal accident

Updated Oct 10th, 2022 10:54AM EDT
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Front
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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One of the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch features that Apple demoed during the iPhone 14 event a few weeks ago is called Crash Detection. The new devices have advanced algorithms that take into account various parameters for determining if a person has been in a car crash. If that’s the case, the iPhone 14 or Apple Watch will call first responders on its own.

That’s what happened with what has been described as the “worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory”. A passenger’s iPhone 14 detected the horrific crash after the vehicle hit a tree early on Sunday in Nebraska. All six occupants died tragically from injuries sustained in the crash.

iPhone 14 Crash Detection activates in fatal crash

According to Associated Press, five men in a Honda Accord died at the crash scene around 2:15 AM. A 24-year-old woman died later at the hospital, where she arrived in critical condition.

She made it to the hospital in the first place thanks to an iPhone 14 in the car, which detected the accident and called for help.

Police told AP that the iPhone detected the impact and called emergency services automatically after the phone’s owner did not intervene. The iPhone 14’s Crash Detection feature will run a countdown timer before calling rescuers when the device detects an accident. The owner can choose to let the phone call 911 or abort the alert if they’re okay.

Crash Detection feature on an iPhone 14.
Crash Detection feature on an iPhone 14. Image source: Apple Inc.

“This is the worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory,” Lincoln Police Assistant Chief Michon Morrow told AP. “We’ve been trying to think of another accident this bad and we haven’t come up with anything.”

It’s unclear what caused the accident at this time, with authorities still investigating.

“The cause of this accident is going to take us some time to pin down,” Morrow said. “We are looking at all possibilities, including alcohol, speed, or distracted driving.”

The Crash Detection simulations

This is the first report of an iPhone 14 making use of the Crash Detection feature in a real-life scenario. Sadly, the impact was too brutal for any victims to survive.

Before this tragic event, we saw several attempts from YouTubers and journalists to trigger the Crash Detection feature on iPhone 14. They proved the feature works, although some had mixed results.

Apple Watch Series 8 Crash Detection feature.
Apple Watch Series 8 Crash Detection feature. Image source: Apple Inc.

For example, Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern arranged one of those tests using a demolition derby car in a junkyard. However, the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch did not detect all crashes in this simulation.

Apple explained there might be factors that can influence the algorithm. Like a missing Bluetooth connection or the lack of GPS data proving the cars were on a road. Also, a relatively short drive distance might have impacted the iPhone’s ability to detect a crash.

Separately, the iPhone’s Settings app informs users that the Crash Detection feature will not detect all crashes.

How to enable Crash Detection on iPhone 14

In the case of the Lincoln accident, the accident was so severe that the iPhone 14’s Crash Detection feature kicked in.

You can enable the feature on iPhone in the Emergency SOS menu of the Settings app if it’s not on by default. But new devices come with Crash Detection enabled.

You’ll need an iPhone 14, the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE 2, or Apple Watch Ultra to take advantage of it. Apple’s support document will provide additional information about the feature.

More Apple coverage: Check out the best iPhone deals online right now.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.